Rollerdrome came out in summer 2022, and whilst it was garnering positivity and doing seemingly well, I never got a chance to play it. Made by Roll7 the skate legends that made Olli Olli World (I love that game and have a review in-waiting for it!). Dripping with a signature style, it takes a step away from the cartoony-happy goodness of the Olli Olli games and places us in a dystopian future.
The year is 2023 and the hot bloodsport of the people is watching folk on roller skates tick and jump around arenas killing people. Yup! Rollerdrome is a weird mix of retro-future stylings, with a dash of Tony Hawk skating and then some slow-mo shooting for good measure.
What’s more, it all works. Rollerdrome oozes with artistic flair and fluid skating/shooting. It shouldn’t work quite as well as it does, but Roll7 honestly know what they’re doing when it comes to slick skating, apparently of any kind.
Here’s a quick take on my experience so far.
Spoiler: Rollerdrome is a gem!
Style, I keep talking about style with Rollerdrome. And that’s because it counts in several ways. The visual design of the game is a modern-yet-70’s future aesthetic in a lovely cel-shaded style.
But then, the purpose, as I understand it, of games by Roll7, is to get you into that all-important flow state. When you’re gliding through, reacting on instinct. Not concerned by the controls or the world, just getting in that zone. That’s where Olli Olli World really came into its own, although I certainly found it much harder as tricks advanced in the late-game.
Rollerdrome is all about giving you that fluidity, getting you into the zone and then just wheeling around clearing out the arenas. Swapping between weapons (pistols, shotgun, grenade launcher and energy-crossbow thing), you skate, jump, grind and shoot.
The cleverness here is that the weapons need ammo, and you get more ammo by simply doing tricks. So suddenly your style isn’t just for show, it’s practical. Rocket up a quarter-pipe, slow mo to shoot that pesky sniper just above you, then flip and spin on the way back down to get more ammo.
Killing folk grants you health a-la DOOM, so move, kill, trick, repeat. Keep your ammo and health up, and you’re golden.
As you progress, Rollerdrome throws different challenges at you, largely in the guise of new enemies and arenas that require a little more thought to traverse. Sometimes needing to dodge whilst shooting and tricking your way around. Causing explosions by shooting at enemy rockets and explosive barrels.
Style AND Substance
I’ve talked about how stylish Rollerdrome is, but you can’t carry a game purely on a visual style and some skate tricks.
What Roll7 have achieved here is something quite special. You’re quick into the flow-state. The controls are simple and your health/ammo is all built-into how well you’re doing. So it’s all about glorious skate killing.
Each level requires objectives to be met, and each stage in the competition requires you to achieve a set amount of objectives before you can move on. Going back to the first few missions after you’ve grasped the game, is something else. Rollerdrome seemed fun enough to start, but my second run, and hour later saw me do the first level in one combo, shaving minutes off my time and seeing me hit a much better ranking.
There’s replayability here, and whilst it might force it a little, to get those objectives cleared. Rollerdrome is fun and quick, so it’s not “forced fun”.
Flawless action with style is one thing, but what about taking Rollerdrome on the go? It’s Steam Deck verified and plays like an absolute dream.
I’ve seen no frame drops, the art style is striking on the smaller screen, helping you manage the chaos as things heat up. It’s not too taxing on the battery or processing, so you’re not sat holding a hot device after just a few minutes of play, either.
Along with its cousin Olli Olli World, Rollerdrome is a perfect fit for the Steam Deck. Having the replayability that it does means you’re in for a good time no matter where you are.
Roll7 continue to impress. With a release that whilst receiving critical acclaim, seems to have flown under the radar a little. It’s a well-built, easy to play and fun time. Dripping with style and accessible gameplay, I’m not sure anyone could argue that it’s just a well-made game.
Here at ninjarefinery.com we absolutely acknowledge such craftmanship and rate it as high as we possible can!
Rollerdrome is bloody exceptional.